Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Different strokes

"There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

That's one of those handy catch-all's that we tell ourselves whenever we're confronted by our instinct to run a mile from anything unfamiliar.

The thing is it's only when we leap joyfully into scary situations that we discover what comes next.
Ok so far; nice concept.

The problem is actually doing it...

I've been attending Life Drawing Classes on and off since the last Ice Age, and over the years I like to think I've developed a style that gets me past those awkward moments when you realise someone's looking over your shoulder.

It's not just the model who feels naked.

Now I know what you're supposed to say - "you're not creating a finished piece, it's a working drawing designed to educate your eye"etc. but I've never completely got over the slightly gladiatorial sensation of working in public.
Shallow? possibly.
Insecure? Definitely, and not something to be proud of, but a rather British part of me tends to cling on to a drawing technique that works and gets approving grunts from my fellow artists.
Stuff like this:

Which is all very nice and fuzzy, but inevitably leads nowhere as I'm repeating what I already know rather than attempting something exciting and new that might actually move me on a notch.

Which is why I found myself in a crowded bar full of pencil grippers the other night, waiting for a nice lady in a Beetlejuice costume to unfold herself in front of us.
If you've never been to a Dr Sketchy's anti art class, you've missed a treat.

Check them out on:

Hosted by Miss Lou-Leigh Blue (she who modelled for a couple of paintings for last year's exhibition)  it's a wonderful blend of Burlesque, beer, theatre and art and definitely no place for a formal approach to anything.

No point in playing safe then, so I loosened the corsets and went for it with a piece of broken chalk, a £1.99 notebook from Tesco's and a devil may care glint in the one eye that can focus further than two feet away.

And surprise surprise, I surprised myself.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Long labour, pain free delivery

Funny thing nerves.

It took me nearly two years to finish this one, which is pretty shameful really.

I lost track of how many times I put it back on the easel, resolved to finish it, bottled it and turned it to the wall again like a guilty secret.

Somewhere in the back of my mind was the sneaking realisation that it wasn't the painting that was inadequate, it was me.
I knew that if I painted it further down the line, it would benefit from the time I'd spent improving.

Self awareness is a wonderful thing, and it's good to be honest about your limitations as long as it spurs you on to greater things.

Two years, and a lot of trial and terror later, I had to face up to the fact that it was finished and would have to be delivered.

I'm no stranger to standing before the critical eye of the fee paying beholder, but it's different when what you're presenting is such a personal statement about both you and the sitter, and I'm not ashamed to say I was bricking it.

Hard nosed corporate heavyweight though he is, Peter came up with the sort of instant response that makes you feel the world isn't such a bad place after all.

Painting people's stories, their lives, their complexities is an extraordinary mix of objectivity and intimacy.

All I've ever really wanted to do was create pictures and make people laugh and cry.

It could be I've found a way to do all three.